It’s my scribbled records of a decade of listener questions – together with a number of emails – that form the backbone of this book. Each of the 148 questions presented here has been asked by a lively enquiring mind, and I’ve tried to answer in a similar vein to the radio shows. Going into print does allow more detail, of course. But it’s the questions themselves that are special, because they address the issues that people actually want to know about – rather than what we scientists think they want to know about.
Guess what rainbows in fog are called? Fogbows! What would happen if you could drop a stone down a hole through the Earth? Why do we need leap seconds? What is the space elevator and will it work? All these are questions that have been asked of Fred Watson, mostly when he’s been on radio. In Why is Uranus Upside Down? Fred answers these and other astronomy questions in terms complex enough to be accurate, yet simple enough for a lay person to comprehend. The final chapter includes some big questions eg ‘Can we ever know everything?’ and ‘Do Astronomers believe in God?’ but ends by answering ‘Did you ever sing with Billy Connolly?’ – evidence of the broad range of listener inquiry.
Fred Watson is Astronomer-in-Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Coonabarabran. He’s also a science communicator, deciphering complicated science for the (mostly) non-scientific community. He regularly broadcasts on ABC radio and has answered many listener questions over the years, including those included in Why is Uranus Upside Down?. Why is Uranus Upside Down?’ features eleven chapters, suggestions for further reading and a detailed index. Watson’s style is humorous, conversational and easy to read. This title will intrigue all those who look upwards and wonder what’s going on out there. It will also help those who have inquisitive children who ask difficult questions. Recommended for stargazers of any age.
Why is Uranus Upside Down? , by Fred Watson
Allen & Unwin 2007
This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.